19 Mar 2015

Rowing stalwart Sir Don Rowlands dies

2:15 pm on 19 March 2015

New Zealand rowing stalwart Sir Don Rowlands has died aged 88.

Sir Don was a national and international champion rower, an administrator and a Rowing New Zealand selector.

Rowing stalwart Sir Don Rowlands in 2006.

Rowing stalwart Sir Don Rowlands in 2006. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

In the 2015 New Year's Honours list, Rowlands was acknowledged, becoming a Knight of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to rowing and business.

Sir Don won nine New Zealand rowing titles between 1949 and 1957.

The West End eight crew - Donald Rowlands, Donald Adam, Kerry Ashby, Murray Ashby, Bruce Culpan, Thomas Engel, Grahame Jarratt, Edwin Smith and Bill Tinnock - were selected as the New Zealand eight for the 1950 Empire Games, where they finished a close second, only a foot behind the gold medallists, Australia.

Sir Don won a total of two medals as a New Zealand representative rower at the British Empire Games in 1950 and 1954. In Vancouver in 1954, he raced in the single scull to win gold.

He was the chairman for the organising committee of the World Rowing Championships at Lake Karapiro in 1978. When the World Rowing Championships returned to New Zealand in 2010, he was the patron of the event.

From 1960 to 1977, he was a New Zealand rowing selector. He selected a number of crews which went on to win Olympic gold including the men's coxed four at the 1968 Mexico Olympic Games and the men's eight in 1972 at Munich.

He managed the 1962 New Zealand Commonwealth Games rowing team and the 1997 World Championships team.

Sir Don continued his involvement in the sport until his passing. He was the vice-patron of Rowing New Zealand (New Zealand Rowing Association) and a life member.

He also served for world rowing governing body FISA from 1974 to 1992, where he represented New Zealand and Australia.

He was awarded the Olympic Order Medal in 1982 and FISA Distinguished Service Medal in 2009. Sir Don also won two Halberg Awards for leadership and service to sport.

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